Remembering Andy One Year Later

Andy Irons flies the flag after winning at Tahiti Sept, 3, 2010, his final ASP victory. Photos by Kirstin Scholtz / Association of Surfing Professionals

In some ways, it’s a bit hard to believe that it has already been a year.

I remember the events of last November pretty vividly, as I’m sure most of Kaua’i also can recall where they were when the unwelcome news arrived Nov. 2, 2010, that Andy Irons had died.

It sent a double-overhead wave of shock and sorrow across the island, which was further felt around the globe.

Kaua’i’s most recognizable and influential figure would no longer be out patrolling the world’s best surf spots with his innovative and flawless technique.

I didn’t know Irons personally, but I felt like I got a good idea of who he was through others’ firsthand accounts of their interactions with him. He had a complicated personality, though his most predictable and consistent traits were his competitiveness and his aloha. Friends of many years along with fans who were graced with merely a few seconds of his time all made mention of his accommodating nature and his genuine care for others.

Irons was by no means perfect. He was real, and real almost always implies imperfection.

He struggled with different issues and had some difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle, turning to legal and illegal substances in order to selfmedicate.

While there was disagreement among physicians who examined him as to whether substance abuse played a part in Irons’ death, it seems obvious to me that it had to have put at least some strain on his struggling heart the root cause in each report.

Andy leaves the beach in Portugal last October after his last contest

Whether or not his personal habits should knock him from the pedestal many had placed him on isn’t for me to decide.

But it shouldn’t be an aspect of his life that is ignored in the future. Someone who, from the outside, appeared to have it all felt the need to change his physical and emotional state.

For anyone else struggling with similar demons, knowing that a high-profile, highly successful individual was going through the same things can be beneficial in their own recovery.

He may help just as many people in the future as he did during his life.

I got to see the effect he had on the local, state and international communities last November when thousands came right to our backyard in Hanalei to pay their respects together, to mourn together, to celebrate together.

At a time when togetherness doesn’t seem to be a major priority in our country, and division and differences are emphasized more than similarities, it’s helpful to remember that we actually are all capable of uniting as one.

It’s a shame that it usually takes something tragic to make that happen.